Immigration Reform

This country was built by immigrants (after they stole the land). But on their stolen land, the immigrants and their descendants built a great democracy, the likes of which the world had never seen before. Now, new immigrants are shut out of this country. If they do come, they are treated like pariahs. Is this the legacy we want to be remembered for? I know I don’t. Amidst the shutdown, a bill has been introduced into the House of Representatives for comprehensive immigration reform, HR 15. Sign this petition today to ask that the bill be brought to a vote.

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Justice in the Court System

We believe ourselves to be a just society — that is part of what it means to be American — we are a meritocratic, democratic, melting pot of a just society. It’s like motherhood and apple pie — essential.

Unfortunately, that is not always true. Minorities of every type can tell you that we do not live in a truly just society. And one of the greatest indignities against justice is our so-called justice system. Our laws and courts are meant to create justice — to punish the guilty and release the innocent. None of that is guaranteed any longer — the innocent languish in prison and the guilty suffer undue punishment and become victims themselves.

A thorough overhaul of our prison and court system is needed — so that perpetrators of minor crimes receive light sentences, the innocent are not pressured into pleading guilty to avoid a heavy sentence, and those who are truly guilty are rehabilitated, not cruelly punished.

The ACLU is one organization working towards this end. There are others. If you are interested in the topic, watch this blog, or read The New Jim Crow.

October 5: National Day of Dignity & Respect

On October 5, all over the United States, groups will be marching for immigration reform, and against the deportations of illegal immigrants. You can learn more here: octoberimmigration.org

There are no events planned in the Idaho Falls area at this time. Contact me today if you are interested in holding one.

From the Standing on the Side of Love email I received:

The crisis of record deportations continues to separate families at alarming rates, impacting our communities and congregations in dire ways. Parents are torn from their children, spouses fare separated from one another. The time has come to stop the deportations. Indeed, it is long past time.

Immigrant justice groups of all stripes are putting a call out to people of faith to take action on the National Day of Dignity and Respect on Saturday, October 5th. Will you join us? Click here to find an event near you.

On this day, people in more than 40 cities across the country will mobilize for compassionate immigration reform. I will be at a march near my home in Sarasota, Florida, calling for reform that recognizes the worth of my family and so many others like mine.

The following week more than 200 faith leaders from 45 states, including your own Rev. Peter Morales, will fly to Washington, DC to advocate for immigration reform, culminating in a mass mobilization on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Interested in Workers’ Rights? A website to check out

IWJ Prayer Vigil for Employee Free Choice

IWJ Prayer Vigil for Employee Free Choice (Photo credit: aflcio)

Economic Justice: When all workers have equal rights, fair pay, and good working conditions, regardless of race, religion, class, age, gender/sexual identity, or any other factors.

If you are interested in working for economic justice, then you might be interested in this organization: Interfaith Worker Justice. They are currently working for the rights of Walmart workers, hotel workers, and home care workers. Check out their blog, and sign up for email updates!

Private Prison Operators Forcing Governments to Imprison More People

Prison Industrial Complex #occupysanquentin

Prison Industrial Complex #occupysanquentin (Photo credit: @bastique)

I found a shocking article today on Alternet, claiming that private prison operators are demanding that state governments contracting with them must maintain high quotas of prisoners in the prisons they operate. These quotas are usually 80-100% of capacity and force the governments in question to arrest and imprison more people or pay money to the private prison operators (in effect, a tax on low-crime).

Read the entire article.

50 Years Ago Today: “I Have a Dream”

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on 28 August 1963. Español: Dr. Martin Luther King dando su discurso “Yo tengo un sueño” durante la Marcha sobre Washington por el trabajo y la libertad en Washington, D.C., 28 de agosto de 1963. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I remember the first time I saw a recording of his speech in school. It blew me away. He was amazing in the grainy recording, I cannot imagine how moving and impressive it would have been to be there on the Mall that day.

Many things have changed since that day 50 years ago, but we still struggle with racism in this country, mostly in more insidious and hidden ways, but occasionally overt. I hope and pray that the next 50 years will see even more change than the preceding ones, and my grandchildren won’t even know what racism is, because it won’t exist.

Let us all work together to create a truly equal society, one that utterly fulfills Dr. King’s vision.

For Profit Prisons in Idaho: A Letter to the Idaho Legislature Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee

Idaho’s for-profit prison, the Idaho Correctional Institute, is a legal and moral disgrace. Earlier this year, the Idaho Board of Correction voted not to renew the contract of the Correctional Corporation of America. However, they also refused to ask the Idaho Department of Correction to submit a bid to run the prison, as did the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC).

The Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Idaho Falls is writing to the members of JFAC who voted against that motion. We believe that the Idaho Department of Correction is the best entity to run Idaho prisons, and should be allowed to submit a bid to run this prison.

A sample letter to JFAC members is below:

I am concerned that, in a March Joint Finance/Appropriations Committee (JFAC) vote, you voted not to ask the Idaho Department of Correction to develop and submit a bid to run the Idaho Correctional Institute.

I understand that there may have been concerns regarding the appropriateness of JFAC as a venue for this vote, but I believe that it is vital that the Department of Correction be given a chance to run this prison. Having it as a for-profit prison run by the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) has been disastrous, and I don’t believe any other private company would be any better.

The Department of Correction should be given a chance to submit a bid for running the Idaho Correctional Institute, and I ask that you give them that chance as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

If you use this letter, please personalize it for yourself and for each legislator you send it to.

Addresses for JFAC members

When you contact these legislators, please do not send the letter to Sen. Nuxoll, Sen. Lacey, Rep. Ringo, or Rep. King. These four legislators voted to allow the Department of Corrections to submit a bid.

 

Activist from History: Inez Milholland

Fighting for justice for our current causes is important, but let us not forget the activists who came before us, fighting for rights that we enjoy today. Inez Milholland was an iconic activist in the early 20th century, a suffragist fighting for women’s right to vote. She died for the cause in 1916, collapsing during a speech after ignoring her health problems to continue campaigning for the vote. She is barely remembered today, ironic since she organized a seminal march on the Washington Mall in 1913, and appears in photographs of the march in flowing robes on a white horse.

So as we continue to fight for social justice, let us remember Inez Milholland and her fellow activists who helped gain women the right to vote.

100 years after suffrage march, activists walk in tradition of Inez Milholland – The Washington Post.

Thanksgiving

Working for social justice doesn’t pause, even for one day, and there are many people who cannot celebrate today properly with their families — maybe they don’t have enough money for Thanksgiving dinner, maybe they are far away from their families, or maybe they don’t get along with their families. But let us pause for a moment, and give thanks for our gratitudes. I believe that everyone is grateful for *something*, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant.

What are you thankful for?

Something to Think About: Minority Students at Elite Schools in New York

I know that New York City is a world away from Idaho Falls, but I found this article (from the New York Times) about the experience of minority students at elite schools in New York City to be very thought provoking. Read the comments on the article, too, they are equally thought provoking.

Share your thoughts on the article in the comments, please.

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